Everyone’s heard the phrase ‘to feel like a million dollars’. Well, the virility of the property market seems to be measured by the number of properties that get sold for that magic £1m figure. In Yorkshire, these homes tend to cluster in the ‘golden triangle’, with most sales coming from Leeds (including surrounding towns like Wetherby, Boston Spa and Linton), Harrogate and York.
I’ve been a dedicated property finder for Harrogate for a few years now spending most of my time in properties worth between one and two million pounds and I do think this price fixation can sometimes be a touch unhelpful.
I’ve seen gorgeous properties well below the magic number on the outskirts of Harrogate and some tired and scruffy properties in prime locations that comfortably sold over £1m.
I always internally acknowledge and feel a sense of appreciation when I step inside certain homes, that I shall now describe as ‘premium’ property.
So, if you want the market to view your lovely home as a premium property, my experience suggests that there are some simple rules to follow. First, we’re going to stand back from the home in question, before zooming in on some of the detail inside.
A premium property typically has presence and feels right for its environment. No large homes squeezed into a tight plot or properties overlooked by neighbours from all sides. The concept of ‘street appeal’ is very hard to put your finger on but very real in operation. It doesn’t matter whether the home is Georgian, Victorian or even completely contemporary, everything needs to feel consistent and appropriate. Extensions need to be sympathetic with the original design and renovations likewise.
Some premium properties have substantial gardens, others do not. The important point is that any garden must feel well cared for, planting suited to the soil and natural undulation of the land. Cheap panel fencing is never a good sign, but the kiss of death is poor quality artificial grass. The world has enough problems with plastic in the environment without the arrival of fluorescent green lawns. Outside buildings (sheds, greenhouses, garden offices, garaging) are tidy and functional. Many a fine home has had the image spoilt by a ramshackle shed or damp, leaking garage. Windows are usually hardwood but can be uPVC if of the very best quality and installed skilfully.
Every room will have a clearly defined purpose and is used preferably on a regular basis. Dining rooms that are ‘only used at Christmas’ show a home that has lost touch with modern life. Likewise, numerous open fires or out-of-date, inefficient gas fires suggest that modernisation is long overdue. Décor should express the individuality of the owner, but nothing should jar or challenge the senses. The concept of indoor-outdoor flow is gaining popularity as global warming seems to impact our little island and everyone looks to reconnect with nature.
The fit out and technology within the home needs to fit the ‘premium’ bracket. People expect to see brands like Aga, Miele, Siemens and Bosch in the kitchen (other brands are available) and know who manufactured and installed the cabinets. It’s also important to make sure that the home cinema has the right cabling and equipment from quality brands. Home cinema isn’t a small room with a 60-inch low budget TV and a few speakers dotted around! Carpets and curtains need to be fresh and carefully matched to décor. Forget the clusters of halogen lights as yesterday’s news; any house without well deployed LED lights (now with a huge range of styles and lighting effects) really isn’t on point anymore.
Finally, what’s the icing on the cake or alternatively the last banana skin to be avoided? Maintenance! No peeling paint, sticking doors or missing tiles please. I often see properties freshened with a lick of paint but lacking the necessary repairs or preparation, and the results can be counterproductive. Poor signs include paint on glass or light switches, poorly prepared and uneven surfaces and even paint attempting to hide damp patches. New tiling must be completely level with neat grout work. If the final touches of a house have been done with care, the message is that everything has been well looked after for many years.
What about hidden gems? Sometimes the house that’s going to look and feel like a million dollars just doesn’t look like it right now but has great potential and in a strong location. I have previously described to clients how that transformation can happen and been instrumental in the process. The initial price might not hit the big number but there is potential to add value. At the end of the day, the key is to sit back and enjoy your home, however much it’s worth, that’s how you feel like a million dollars!
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